What is it with people and their makeshift shrines in front of famous dead people’s houses? When did that become a…thing? I admit that I got a little teary eyed when Princess Diana was killed, but by the time JFK Jr. died I was over it. I distinctly remember rolling my eyes at the hordes of fans that left flowers and what-not outside his house. Why were they so desperate to be part of the “shared consciousness” or whatever they call it? You didn’t know the man, get over yourself.
Still, I felt sad about Heath Ledger. I thought about him off and on all day, and I couldn’t understand why. Maybe it was because I felt bad about his daughter, who was born a few days before mine. Maybe I felt close to him for his depressed, aloof demeanor. I think maybe he just got under my skin somehow. He got under my skin and I didn’t even know it until he turned up dead. Damn he was good.
For some reason I got the bright idea to go and visit his apartment building. Everyone was doing it. Besides, it was sorta practically around the corner from my office, and since there was no danger of me running into his corpse anymore (thank you for the footage, CNN) who could it hurt? Sure, I hate Soho, and the cobblestone streets would be murder on my Nine West boots, but I needed closure.
I wondered what the protocol was for this sort of thing. Should I bring flowers? Take pictures? Would I cry? What if someone saw me? What if a reporter asked me What Heath Ledger’s Death Meant To Me? I could just see the byline: “Local Moron Distraught Over Dead Celebrity.” Yeesh.
I briefly considered wearing a paper bag over my head, then decided against it. I told them at work I was going to “run some errands” and got on the downtown F train. (The building might not have been as close as I made it out to be a minute ago). Finally I arrived. While I was approaching the building I began to feel a little stupid. OK, very stupid. I started to realize that this little exercise probably wasn’t going to make me feel any better about the whole thing. It wasn’t like he was going to come down and bring me enlightenment or give me a hot stock tip. What did I think was going to happen?
Here’s what happened. There were news vans, lots and lots of news vans, with great big satellite dishes on the roofs. There were reporters standing in front of the building interviewing each other. There were people like me trying to look like it was perfectly reasonable to be standing around Broome Street in the middle of the afternoon. I saw an SUV with a dirty window and someone had written “heath wash me” on it. I was going to take a picture but I didn’t want to get bitch slapped by some asshole reporter. At one point one of the neighborhood shrews passed by and shouted “What do you people expect to seeeeeeee?” (Translation: “I live in this neighborhood and I don’t care about stuff, I’m better than you.” I hate Soho.). Oh, and there was a really cute dress in the boutique across the street.
So how do I feel now? I feel thankful. For not bringing flowers. I would have looked like a whole fool if I had shown up with flowers. I also feel slightly jealous of Heath Ledger because he got to live a block away from Pearl River Mart, which is the best store ever. So much for closure.
In the end I guess I realized that Heath Ledger was just a poor slob who made our lives a little more interesting. I didn’t know him and now I never will. He’s still dead and I’m still sad about it, but I’ll live.
So in case you’re thinking about visiting a celebrity shrine someday, don’t bother. I’ve already done it, so now you don’t have to. You’re welcome.